Fire damages future Casper abortion clinic, arson suspected

The initial caller reportedly told police they witnessed an individual running away from the building with a gas can and black bag.
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 11:21 AM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - An early morning fire damaged a building that was being renovated to become a new abortion clinic on East 2nd Street in Casper, Wednesday.

The Casper Police Department issued this statement on the incident:

“Shortly before 4:00am this morning officers responded to a building located at 918 East 2nd Street for a report of a business burglary. Upon arrival smoke was seen rolling out of the windows. Casper Fire-EMS quickly responded and extinguished the fire. The initial caller stated they witnessed an individual running away from the building with a gas can and black bag. At this time investigators believe the fire to be intentional. Please avoid this area as crews continue to investigate. Investigators are currently reviewing footage from the area to provide a description of the suspect. No injuries have been reported as a result of this incident. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.”

In an interview a witness of the event and, initial caller to the police said, “If I hadn’t woken up and called when I did they said that it would’ve jumped over to my building and we have a few other people that live in that building.”

The clinic, which was also planned to provide other health care services for women, had been set to open in June as only the second place in the state to offer abortions. Wyoming’s current lone location for women to get abortions is at a hospital in Jackson, 281 miles away.

Wyoming is one of 13 that would outlaw abortion if the Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. A leaked draft of a ruling suggests that will happen soon.

Julie Burkhart who is the founder of Wellspring Health Access stated, “We are deeply distressed by the damage caused to our clinic as a result of this incident, but also grateful that no one was injured. We are working with law enforcement on their investigation. We believe that the people of Casper deserve access to comprehensive reproductive health care and will continue to do everything we can to accomplish that mission.”

A spokesperson from the group also stated that Miss. Burkhart had yet to asses the damage to the clinic herself, which will be the first step in figuring out a new timeline to open the clinic if any reconstruction is necessary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Copyright 2022 Wyoming News Now. All rights reserved.